This Week In Water: New Loan Fund For Conservation
Tanzania and China experiment with public-private partnerships to minimize water-related risks while Costa Rica models the revolving loan fund for watershed protection. And Ecosystem Marketplace reaches the one month mark before its State of Watershed Investment 2014 report launches.
This article was originally published in the Water Log newsletter. Click here to read the original.
1 August 2014 | Greetings! We’ve got just over a month to go before our latest market report, the State of Watershed Investment 2014, is launched. 2012 and 2013 have been the biggest years ever for funding for natural infrastructure projects – this year, we’ve inventoried more than 400 programs around the world and tracked movements in financing structures, project design, and outcomes. We’ll be holding a report launch event at World Water Week in Stockholm on September 1st. Stay tuned for an announcement including event details.
In California, state officials are debating whether to allow projects curbing tropical deforestation into the state’s carbon cap-and-trade system. What caught our eye this week was the argument that Brazilian deforestation may be driving California’s current drought: researchers found that total deforestation of the Amazon rainforest could reduce rainfall in the Pacific Northwest by 20% and cause a 50% reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water for California.
We usually think of water as a local issue, but it connects us all in surprising ways. That includes bringing together people and organizations to solve water problems collectively: in this month’s Water Log we have news of public-private partnerships in Tanzania and China to address watershed risk.
We also have coverage of an new collaborative mechanism for finance, a revolving loan fund (RLF) in Costa Rica’s San Carlos basin. The RLF provides zero-interest loans to community groups to protect important source water areas. Operating in rural areas where the state-run water company has little or no presence, the RLF reports that communities are eager to finance watershed protection – and so far, borrowers have a 100% repayment rate.
On a final note, be sure to take a look at the ‘Jobs’ section below – there are lots of interesting positions this month.
The Ecosystem Marketplace Team
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In rural areas worldwide, watershed protection is desperately needed, but project developers are stymied by a lack of water users with deep enough pockets to pay for it. In Costa Rica’s San Carlos watershed, the non-profit Nectandra Institute has come up with a solution: a self-replenishing revolving loan fund (RLF) that lets borrowers pay back money over time as benefits from conservation accumulate. RLFs have been used in many places, including the United States, to finance big infrastructure projects. Now, the model’s supporting investments in “natural” infrastructure: the forests and grasslands that recharge the aquifer, trap erosion, and filter out pollution.
On Thursday, July 17 Forest Trends signed a second MoU with the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM), to continue its collaboration with the Ministry on the national Ecosystem Services Incubator. During the first two years of is existence, the Incubator has played a fundamental role in providing technical support and securing significant financial support for watershed services projects throughout the country, as well as building bridges between MINAM and other Peruvian institutions such as SUNASS, the national water regulator, and ANA, the National Water Authority.
California regulators overseeing the state’s cap-and-trade program now have one more reason to recognize offsets generated by saving endangered rainforest in Latin America. This week, they learned that the destruction of trees in the Amazon rainforest will probably slash rainfall in the United States, depriving drought-choked California of even more drinking water.
You can’t separate people from climate change. We caused it, and we will suffer from it. The UK’s weather service, the Met Office, recently tried to summarize the interplay between people and the planet in one wall poster, and the result is a stark reminder of the fact that we now live on a managed planet.
The administration of US President Barack Obama is launching efforts to help build the country’s resilience to climate change. The administration recently presented its Green Infrastructure Collaborative to advance green infrastructure implementation through joint operations of several government agencies. The group will provide technical assistance to cities, as well as funding for at least 25 communities.
Collaboration between the Asian Development Bank and China’s southwest province, Guizhou, aims to finance watershed protection and sustainable development in the region’s Chishui River, an economically significant waterway and a tributary of the Yangtze River. The duo agreed to develop a water fund that would merge investments from both public and private sources into long-term protection for the watershed.
This month the business analytics company Prognoz completed work on the Water Risk Filter 2.0, an updated version of the original Water Risk Filter. The Filter is a creation of the World Wide Fund for Nature; the 2.0 model offers more advanced water risk analysis that companies and investors can use in decision-making.
Public-private strategies are popping up across to help develop and finance projects addressing the country’s shrinking groundwater supplies and widespread lack of access to sanitation, the Guardian reports. That includes a water stewardship effort backed by companies like SAB Miller, Coca-Cola Sabco, and construction firm Nabaki Afrika to clean up the Mlalakua River in Dar Es Salaam. SAB Miller through the Water Futures Partnership (WFP) has put forward $257,000 for that effort. “Companies are seeing that they are beginning to face complex water risks that they can’t manage on site, like groundwater pollution across the city affecting many businesses and communities,” explains Robin Farrington, a water stewardship adviser at GIZ which is part of the WFP.
Instead of constructing new and expensive wastewater treatment infrastructure, the city of Gisborne in New Zealand has proposed building a wetland system at half the cost. The city’s wastewater committee says wetlands are the more resilient choice – they’re more likely to withstand natural disasters than grey infrastructure, have a longer life expectancy and contribute to overall restoration of the bay. Wetlands even offer the possibility of another revenue stream through the sale of carbon credits.
Water users in the US Southwest all suffer equally from water shortages. But in a display of water cooperation between farmers, government agencies and conservationists, some of the Rio Grande’s water will return to its floodplain providing habitat for natural species that once flourished there. The vehicle is a voluntary water trading mechanism where water rights are bought from willing sellers and used to restore riparian land.
Multinational brewery SAB Miller recently posted an update on its high-level water risk assessment process, looking at dozens of its breweries around the world to understand not just on-site water management but watershed-level risks as well. Among the findings so far: 1) We need data, data, and then some more data to understand hydrological conditions; 2) Local stakeholder engagement is key; and 3) Make the business case. “We need to express the issue in terms of business risk, not hydrological risk,” writes David Grant, SAB Miller’s Senior Manager of Water Risks and Partnerships.
The Bethlehem Authority that manages the forested watershed of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains recently struck a deal with Disney, which will purchase forest carbon offsets from a 20,000-acre project. The four-year contract with the entertainment giant will replace a previous agreement with automaker Chevrolet. The authority estimates that the sale of offsets will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually, which it will use to improve the aging water system and protect the forest. For Disney long a lover of forestry projects as this Ecosystem Marketplace story noted buying offsets from this project helps the company meet its environmental goals such as reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2013 (a goal it achieved).
Quito, Ecuador is home to the world’s longest-running water fund, known as FONAG. Launched in 2000, FONAG now has an endowment of $12-14 million and funds tends of thousands of dollars of watershed protection work each year in the Quito area. Farmers are paid to put up fences to keep cattle out of streams or restore degraded areas. The fund is a model for similar efforts elsewhere in Latin America, North America, and Africa – which have drawn on FONAG’s experience for valuable lessons. For example, finding the right ratio between investing capital and spending on conservation. “Almost every one of the water funds makes investments immediately to show investors results,” says Aurelio Ramos, TNC’s director of conservation programs for Latin America. “It’s a strategic move and a lesson we learned from the Quito water fund.”
Boston was once famous for its polluted waterway. But this summer, the city took first prize in a water taste test hosted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Getting to this point, however, cost Boston billions of dollars in cleanup. It also led to the city investing in land preservation that resulted in 400 square miles of forest surrounding its drinking water sources. Boston’s success provides more support for source water protection strategies.
Deltares – Various, Netherlands
The unit Scenarios and Policy Analysis is one of the seven units of Deltares. Our unit aims at developing methods and applying knowledge and expertise in policy development, regional processes, adaptive water management and innovation. In our unit approximately 80 persons are employed. The unit is located in Delft and Utrecht.
One of the unit’s four sections is ‘Climate adaptation and risk management’. This section focuses on adaptive delta management under the uncertainty of climate change, and the management of floods and extreme events as to contribute to disaster risk reduction, both in the Netherlands and abroad. The Senior Advisor will: Perform specialist advice and international research studies on the adaptation of water management to climate change, flood risk management and disaster risk reduction; Develop, acquire and implement projects in this field, both in the Netherlands, Europe and abroad; Liaise with knowledge institutes, private sector, governance and financing institutes as required, both nationally and internationally; Strengthen the positioning of Deltares in this field in international networks and strategic partnerships.
Environmental Defense Fund – Various, United States
EDF is seeking a Communications Manager to develop and implement communications plans and media outreach strategies that further the goals of the Ecosystems Program, particularly in the area of agricultural sustainability.This position requires an understanding of and keen interest in conservation and agricultural issues. Reporting directly to the program’s Communications Director, the Communications Manager will write, edit and produce a range of communications materials while securing positive media coverage of the program’s work in top-tier, regional and ag trade outlets.
Bangor University – Gwynedd, United Kingdom
Applications are invited for a three year post-doctoral research officer post in the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography to work on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust called “Can Payments for Ecosystem Services deliver environmental and livelihood benefits? The project is conducted in collaboration between Bangor University and Fundacion Natura Bolivia.
Pacific Forest Trust – California, USA
The Policy Associate will provide support to PFT’s policy programs developing and implementing incentives for forest conservation and sustainable management. The position’s primary focus is research, analysis and supporting policy development for private forestland conservation incentives in California and federal policy. A secondary focus is on state policy in the Pacific Northwest. Duties include research and analysis of climate change policies, forest energy policies, forest watershed service programs, conservation tax policy, and state and federal conservation funding programs. The Policy Associate will also support PFT advocacy efforts by drafting letters, memos, representing PFT at meetings and providing support to PFT organized coalitions.
William Penn Foundation – Pennsylvania, USA
The Foundation’s programmatic investments are led by the team of Senior Program Officers. The Program Associates support the work across the three funding areas (Closing the Achievement Gap, Creative Communities, Watershed Protection), as well as Research and Analytics. The Program Associates work on projects as assigned by Senior Program Officers to meet the needs of the Foundation. This specific position will focus primarily on supporting the work in Watershed Protection but will also be given assignments in other areas on an as needed basis.
Fundacií³n Natura Bolivia with the support of various donors has established a School for Reciprocal Agreements for Water (Acuerdos Recíprocos por Agua, or ARA). The school seeks to inspire leaders in the region through training and education, working with mayors, municipal government, leaders of indigenous organizations, farmers and producer associations, NGOs, and other stakeholders. The School teaches how to implement ARA schemes in various contexts, with the goal of scaling up the ARA model in Bolivia and Latin America and through ARAs ensure the conservation of water and biodiversity-rich ecosystems. This intensive six-day course reviews in detail the establishment of ARAs. Each course has twenty places open will run in August and again in October of this year. All trainings are held in Spanish. The first course will be held in the cities of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Vallegrande, Bolivia 11 to August 16, 2014.
World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Every year, SIWI provides a platform for over 200 collaborating organisations to convene events at the World Water Week. In addition, individuals from around the globe present their findings at the scientific workshops. 31 August – 5 September 2014. Stockholm, Sweden.
The emphasis of this Seventh international ESP conference will be on the use of the ecosystem services concept at the local level, focusing on Latin America with a special emphasis on Costa Rica. Scientists representing several EU-funded projects will present their results on Community Based Ecosystem Management. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with the rapidly growing network of ESP members, practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others from all continents. Be part of special sessions and working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters, grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. 8-12 September 2014. San Jose, Costa Rica.
Early Bird Registration for this year’s One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit is open with reduced rates! Join the 5th annual event September 15 – 17, in Kansas City. Invited keynotes include: President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Spotlight Communities will drive the national conversation on water as the centerpiece for urban sustainability, developing green infrastructure and resource recovery. 15-17 September 2014. Kansas City MO, USA.
The BIOECON Partners are pleased to announce the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of “Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability”. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. The conference takes a broad interest in the area of resource management, development and conservation, including but not limited to: the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in economic development, plant genetic resources and food security issues, deforestation and development, fisheries and institutional adaptation, development and conservation, wildlife conservation, and international trade and regulation. The conference will have sessions on economic development, growth and biodiversity conservation, as well as on institutions and institutional change pertaining to the management of living resources. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, UK.
The Congress will present the latest technological developments, green industry awards, iconic best practice projects, research data, professional training workshops, Living Art competition and new areas of applications in the field of green infrastructure. It will serve as a surface + space where international urban greenery thought leaders from various disciplines may come together with architects, landscape architects, landscaper contractors, environmentalists, horticulturists, nursery growers and policymakers and stakeholders to examine the present and future trends of this growing sector. 7-10 October 2014. Sydney, Australia.
ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.
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